Hi everyone and thanks for visiting our blog. My wife and I created this blog to chronicle our experience while raising a son with Asperger's syndrome. Since our son was diagnosed with an ASD at age 5, we've had a lot of questions. Lucky for us we have a great support network in place. And our blog gives us an opportunity to share what we've learned with our readers. We hope you find our blog informative and interesting. Thanks again for visiting.

"It seems that for success in science and art, a dash of autism is essential." Dr Hans Asperger 1906-1980

Saturday, 17 December 2011


In this posting, I'm going to talk about Christmas last year.  For most people this is a time to celebrate and reflect back on all the good times we shared throughout the year.  But for us, Christmas 2010 was not like any we'd had before.

It was our first Christmas with the diagnosis of Asperger's.  The diagnosis did help explain why Jacob didn't like the holiday so much.  It was the anxiety and lack of control.  Jacob still has gifts from last year he hasn't opened.  The day started out as usual, all of us in the living room, exchanging gifts.  It was almost 10AM when I decided to get us coffee.  I'm surprised I even go to Timmie's now.  When I was coming home I noticed police cruisers had set up a type of perimeter in my neighbourhood.  I thought what could be happening today?  Then I saw the police cruiser by my house.  I thought it was for a neighbour or something.  It wasn't until I saw my wife Shannon's face.  I felt sick.  I knew the tragedy wasn't happening to a neighbour, it was happening to my family.

I don't think you can tell, but I needed some time to relax after typing that last paragraph.  I haven't shared those details with anyone outside my family.

I ran past everyone and asked my wife what was going on?  She did her best to explain.  A knock came to the door and when she looked out she saw a little girl.  She thought it was our friend's daughter.  It wasn't.  It was a girl she'd never seen before.  It wasn't until she opened our door that my wife Shannon saw the giant pit bull.  But it was too late.  The little girl had found the pit bull wandering the streets and wanted someone to call the SPCA.  She has a friend that lives next door and mixed up the 2 houses.  6 months earlier we had gotten a dog, to help be a companion to Jacob.  Dogs are good with kids with Asperger's.  So we got a little poodle named Max.  He was small and white.  He was very smart and very well trained, he was only 2 years old at Christmas.

Another break.

Max went everywhere with Shannon.  So of course he was at the door when she answered it.  He'd had his first treat out of his new stocking.  "The pit bull new he was there."  My wife said.  It had him before she could move.  She was screaming for help, but it happened so fast there was nothing anyone could do.  The pit bull was so big compared to Max, who was 7 pounds.  When my wife and I had to go ID the dog, only then did I see it.  It was huge.  So huge that I didn't know if I could have done what my wife did.  The pit bull shook Max.  Please don't picture it.  When I came in there was blood, pee and fecal matter everywhere in my hallway.  You could tell by the shifting of all the stuff that something had happened. 

My wife is my hero.  Since the knock at the door came at Christmas, everyone wanted to see who was there.  Even Jacob.  My wife had to protect Jacob from the dog, he was only six feet away.  She jumped on the back of the pit bull and started to choke it with its own collar.  It was wearing one of those choking collars with the pegs that help teach a dog not to pull.  My wife said she was on its back and it was so strong.  But she was stronger.  While strangling the dog she forced the giant pit bull towards the door.  The blood from the pit bull's mouth, that came from Max, was smeared on the bench we have in the hallway.  She now had to get the doors open to get the pit bull out.  Then she pushed the pit bull and it ran off like nothing had happened.  But something did happen.  My poodle was torn apart right in front of my son, on Christmas day.

Another break, with a walk.

Let me say again, my wife is a hero.  What would of happened had Jacob had one of Max's toys like so often before?  I can't think about that now.  My dear wife put her life on the the to protect my son.  That's a question most men would like to have answered.  At first, I on the other hand, did the unthinkable.  I blamed her.  Didn't she look?  Didn't she see the dog?  It didn't matter.  I felt so bad later.  I've apologise a million times since then.  I saw my poodle laying in the kitchen, still breathing with red on his white fur.  I didn't know what to do.  I then thought of Jacob.  He had ran too his room.  He was in the corner of his room, on the bed rocking and sobbing.  He wouldn't let me near him. So I went back down stairs.  The police, animal control and paramedics had been there asking questions.  I had some questions too.

I'm going to take a break after each paragraph.

So my wife and I took our dog to the emergency vet clinic.  After a few trips and a couple heart attacks, my dog had to be put down.  I would have put him down sooner, but before we left Jacob asked me to save his dog.  I didn't want my son to loose his best friend on Christmas day.  But he did.  I put Max down at 6PM.  And we were out over $2500 dollars.  I didn't have to worry about that though.  After all they found the dog and I would find out who the owner was, right?

Throughout the next few days I received lots of calls from people offering dogs.  I told the Spectator our story and we were on CHCH news.  "A Christmas Tragedy" they called it.  People had no problem finding us and offering support, but we weren't ready for a new dog.  Then on December 27th we got another call, but this one was different.  It was a lady named Nancy.  Nancy was a poodle breeder and she was offering us a new poodle.  She said that she saw us on the news and had to help.  She asked how we were?  Did we want another dog?  How is your son?  I couldn't speak.  I was crying, just like on the news.  My wife had to field Nancy's questions.  Eventually we agreed to get a poodle from Nancy.

The new poodle we were set to receive, wasn't going to be ready until Valentine's day.  So while waiting, we set out to find the owners of the pit bull.  We went to the police.  We did the Freedom of Info search.  Both turned up nothing.  The city wouldn't reveal the owner's identity.  "It was a major invasion of someones privacy" they said.  The city chose to protect the pit bull's owner's and leave us in the cold.  Hey, as long as the owner pays the fine to the city, what does the city care if I get our money back?  It didn't matter to us though, we were getting a new dog.

Valentine's day was upon us before you could blink.  What a winter storm in Nancy's neck of the woods.  She was from Chatham, ON.  Nancy and her husband John drove 2 hours in whiteout conditions to see us and Jacob.  We had never met them in person, but we felt so close.  They came to us in our moment of need, an event sometimes friends not might be there for you, but they were.  And we didn't even know what they looked like. 

The Spec was there to cover the event.  "Chico and the Boy" was the title.  That's what we named our little, black bundle.  Ironically, I had a black poodle named Chico when I was a boy.  Jacob had light in his eyes again.  I hadn't heard him laugh or play like that for a while.  Even a year later, as I sit and type this, they are wrestling right beside me, Jacob's been laughing the whole time.

Even during this horrible time, the worst in my life.  Something beautiful had happened.  My relationship with my wife became stronger, if that was possible.  And we became lifelong friends with Nancy and John.  All 3 are heroes to me.  Now my life is greater than ever before.  This Christmas we'll be celebrating Chico's first Christmas with us and we'll be remembering the good times with our old dog Max.  And I promise you this.  We won't be opening the front door.

                                        This was Max                                        

This is Jacob and Chico



  1. Jim, thank you for sharing the different experiences you and Shannon have been going through. It's been very helpful and educational. Thank you

  2. Bless you all and little Max, your son and Chico too! This story did more than just bring tears to my eyes. I can't imagine what your son, and the rest of you, went through that day. My service dog and I have also been attacked by a pit bull, and although we were very lucky to get away fairly unscathed (thanks to my dog fighting like a lion), it has changed my life. I now dedicate many hours a day to writing letters, and talking to various people about how to get these dangerous pit bull dogs off of our city streets, and out of homes. You may not feel the same way about the breed, I won't assume you do, I know that you understand, however, the need to put myself into something like this. I admire your courage and strength for being able to post this blog. I too have found that blogging about our attack has been very therapeutic, not easy, but helpful. Just wanted to say thank you for being courageous enough to tell your story and let the rest of us share in your sorrow and grief....and also your new found joy, with Chico. I'm going to post your blog in mine; I have already posted your story. If you're interested in checking it out....my blog is www.dogsinservice.blogspot.com. Thanks again, and God bless!

    1. Hi Jewel and thanks for the kind words. It was and still is, very difficult to talk about what happened that day.

      In spite of what happened, I still find it hard to blame pit bulls for what happened. I blame stupid owners. It's amazing how some dog owners pay thousands of dollars to care for their dog, yet won't pay $20 for a muzzle.

      I look forward to reading your blog. Thanks again.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. It's an outrage the police would care more for the privacy of this monster's owner than the privacy and sanctity that was invaded on what should be a happy day. How terrible, perhaps you should ask the police to reimburse you for the damages, since they are obstructing justice, isn't that against the law? Would it be possible to sue the police department? I know how it is to have an invasion, and the very spot where this happened is also your beloved home. More than a beloved family member was lost on this day. Bless all of you.

    1. Thanks for the support. On Feb 27, 2012, the owner pled guilty and was ordered to pay us $2500 in restitution. We're also going to be filing a suit against him for the maximum allowed in Ontario. Then maybe owner's of illegal dogs will learn that when you choose to house a dog like that, sometimes bad things can and often do happen. Thanks again for the support.